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Cablegate: Somali Refugees in Eritrea

VZCZCXRO6795
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHAE #0049 0320604
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010604Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9418
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1592
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1770
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS ASMARA 000049

SIPDIS

LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS
DEPT FOR AF/E

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV PHUM SO ER
SUBJECT: SOMALI REFUGEES IN ERITREA

1. (SBU) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Representative in Eritrea Vedasto Joseph Mwesiga and UNHCR Senior
Protection Officer Alvin Gonzaga informed Emboffs that there are
4,789 Somali refugees in Eritrea located in the Emkulu Camp outside
of Massawa. Mwesiga said that the majority of the refugees are
members the Marehan sub clan from the Gedo region. Gonzaga said 60
percent of the refugees came to Eritrea prior to 2000 via Djibouti
and were encamped near Assab. The camp was moved to Massawa during
the 1998-2000 border war after Assab was attacked by Ethiopian
artillery. The remaining 40 percent arrived almost entirely between
the end of the border war in 2001 and 2003. From 2004 through 2006
approximately 60 new refugees arrived per year, but in 2007 the
number increased to 208.

2. (SBU) Mwesiga said the refugees receive good treatment and
reported no violations of human rights. He also said food is
provided directly to the refugees by UNHCR and each person receives
2,100 calories per day.

3. (SBU) Gonzaga said 60-65 percent of the refugees in the Emkulu
camp were eligible for resettlement. The Canadians are the only
country agreeing to accept these refugees, and will receive
approximately 100 over the next few months. The Australians have
interviewed some refugees, but have yet to accept them. Both
Mwesiga and Gonzaga expressed interest in the USG settling as many
refugees from the camp as possible, but noted that DHS interviewers
were not able to obtain Eritrean entrance visas when last tried in
2004.
MCMULLEN

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